September 4th, 2017
49 newborns have reportedly lost their lives at the Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) ward of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) government hospital in Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh (UP) in the last one month.
Previously, local media had reported on the hospital’s dire conditions, reporting that at least one infant died every 14 hours in the SNCU ward.
The extent of the tragedy came to light after Ravindra Kumar, district magistrate (DM) of Farrukhabad, visited the hospital and ordered a probe after interacting with parents of the victims. This was on August 30.
Case registered against CMO, CMS & some doctors. Further action will be taken as the investigation proceeds: Dayanand Mishra, SP Farrukhabad pic.twitter.com/GEMEFrTQhj
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) September 4, 2017
According to reports, an information was sought from the CMO and CMS regarding the number of deaths of children between May 23 to August 14 in the SNCU Ward – but they failed to provide the data.
Data was revealed only after the DM intervened, The Times of India reports.
Doctors claimed that the deaths were due to ‘perinatal asphyxia’ (the medical condition resulting from deprivation of oxygen to a newborn infant that lasts long enough during the birth process to cause physical harm, usually to the brain).
The 49 deaths took place over a month’s time between July 21 and August 20. The news of the unfortunate incident comes less than four weeks after over 70 children died in a government hospital in Gorakhpur after oxygen supply to them was cut off due to non-payment of bills.
The same Gorakhpur hospital was the site of about 61 more infant deaths two weeks ago.
Officers booked for culpable homicide and dereliction of duty
On DM’s order, the investigation was conducted by a team of three officers led by city magistrate Jainendra Kumar Jain.
Daya Nand Misra, Superintendent of Police, Farrukhabad, said, “On Sunday evening, based on the written complaint filed by city magistrate in Nagar Kotwali police station regarding the deaths of children, we have lodged an FIR against chief medical officer Uma Kant Pandey, chief medical superintendent B P Pushkar and a few doctors of RML Hospital.”
The accused officers have been booked under IPC Sections 176 (Omission to give notice or information to public servant by person legally bound to give it), 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), and 304 (Punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder).
The UP government’s response
In a press release, the UP government in a press release claimed that out of 49 deaths, 19 infants were ‘stillborn’.
When asked to comment, minister for health and family welfare Siddharth Nath Singh said, “The report has been misinterpreted. The deaths took place over a period of one month. The figure also included 19 still births.”
A high-level team will reportedly be sent from Lucknow to probe into the matter to ascertain the actual cause of deaths.
Farrukhabad MLA, Mejor Sunil Dutt Dwivedi told The Times of India, “I had been visiting local government hospital, but no doctor informed me about the children deaths. The investigation done by city magistrate team has revealed that there was negligence on the part of doctors of RML hospital. It was the duty of CMO and CMS, the senior officers of medical service to take appropriate action to save the precious lives.”
Tragedy strikes less than a month after the deaths in Gorakhpur, UP
Two weeks ago, over 70 children died in a government hospital in Gorakhpur after the oxygen supply was cut off due to non-payment of dues to the private supply.
The incident sparked international outrage and shed focus on local administrative and medical mismanagement.
Then again, on August 27, 28 and 29, 61 deaths were recorded at the same hospital, Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College Hospital.